Many of you have asked about what practical, day-to-day things I and my children have done to start saving serious money and paying down debt. Sundays are always a day that remind me of what huge changes we have made in our basic, everyday spending.
In June of 2012 I started making serious changes to our diet and eating habits. I wish I knew exactly how much of my debt can be attributed to eating out because my guess is that a good chunk of what I owe came from food! How pathetic is THAT?! But as I talk to friends and family about this, I know I am not alone in that very bad habit of eating meals out. Eating out is not only bad for us from a nutritional standpoint–it is just darn expensive! This last week I did not have a plan for meals after the move and I am sick of dropping $25 to Subway for a meal…not to mention sick of the food!
But how do we avoid it? As a mom who works outside the home while raising two very busy kids, I have to have a plan. And Sunday is my day to execute that plan. I spent five hours cooking today. I made our meals for the evening and lunches/snacks using the same ingredients. I start every week with the goal that we will not find ourselves in a drive thru window eating like seagulls! That’s a running joke with the kids “only seagulls should eat out of windows!” This is a huge challenge given our weekday schedules. This week we even have “to go” items for our evenings that we will eat “on the go” but they are made from all real food ingredients. While eating in the car is not great we DO make it a family meal! I am super proud of that and love to hear my kids tell other kids that we do this! And I cannot tell you how far this is from the old Claire. My sister (a dietician) STILL cannot believe my transformation. I used to make fun of her for her refusal to buy pre-shredded cheese. 🙂
So challenge yourself and your family to not eat out for ONE week or maybe even a MONTH! If you are doing two drive thru meals per week and we estimate $25 per visit, you’re saving 50 bucks per week and eventually $200 per month! Make eating out a treat and not the norm! Seeing restaurants as undesirable and making better choices at the grocery store has made an enormous difference in my debt snowball. Our grocery budget is $300 per month! The bulk of that savings has come from a dramatic reduction in packaged foods and instead making things from scratch. Eating at home is always better than eating out and then I took it a step beyond and started making a lot of our food with unprocessed ingredients which keeps us full longer and cost less to make in the long run.